NFL Nation: 2010 Week 3 High Energy

NFC West High Energy Player of the Week

September, 28, 2010
9/28/10
3:02
PM ET
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 3.

The Seattle Seahawks saw little risk in sending the 139th choice in the 2010 NFL draft to the New York Jets for injured running back Leon Washington.

[+] EnlargeSeattle running back Leon Washington
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireSeattle running back Leon Washington had two kickoff returns for touchdowns last Sunday.
They could have drafted a running back -- the Jets used the choice in question for fullback John Conner -- or they could take their chances on Washington's recovery from career-threatening compound leg fractures.

They took their chances and Washington rewarded them with 101- and 99-yard kickoff returns for touchdowns during a 27-20 victory over the San Diego Chargers in Week 3.

Washington needed only three games to rank first in Seahawks history for most touchdowns on kickoff returns (Josh Wilson, Nate Burleson, Maurice Morris, Charlie Rogers, Steve Broussard, Jon Vaughn, James Jefferson and Zachary Dixon had one apiece). Washington already owned the Jets' record for most kickoffs returned for touchdowns. He's the only player to hold that record for two franchises, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

The Seahawks have made more roster moves than any NFL team since last season. Coach Pete Carroll reflected on this one Monday.

"The obvious guy that shows up as a touchdown maker is Leon coming on board through the trade," he said.
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 3.

He is 34 years old, but you never would guess that if you saw what Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez did Sunday against the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome.

Gonzalez
Gonzalez
Gonzalez caught eight passes for 110 yards and a touchdown as the Falcons defeated the Saints, 27-24, in overtime. A week after the Falcons held “Tony Gonzalez Day’’ to honor Gonzalez for becoming the first tight end to make 1,000 catches, he showed he has a lot more catches in him.

Drawing coverage from linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks, Gonzalez got open consistently as the Falcons recorded one of their more significant wins in recent years by beating the defending Super Bowl champions.

Seven of his catches resulted in first downs and Gonzalez also drew a key pass interference penalty by safety Roman Harper that gave the Falcons 25 yards.
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 3:

[+] EnlargeMatt Cassel
John Rieger/US PresswireMatt Cassel put the Chiefs on his shoulders on Sunday against San Francisco.
The Kansas City Chiefs are playing with an unmatched energy in the AFC West. That’s a big reason why this young team is one of three 3-0 teams in the NFL. They have a two-game lead in the division as they head to their bye week.

You can go any number of directions on why the Chiefs are energized, but this week we’re going to the center of attention -- quarterback Matt Cassel.

Sunday, in a 31-10 win over San Francisco, the embattled quarterback may have energized his Kansas City career. After being criticized for not playing very well in the first two games despite the Chiefs’ hot start, Cassel was a big reason why Kansas City routed San Francisco, showing he can help his team win.

Cassel threw for three touchdowns and completed 16 of 27 passes for 250 yards. The highlight of the day was a 45-yard touchdown pass to receiver Dwayne Bowe on a trick play. The Chiefs are flying high and their quarterback has proved he can be a part of the show.
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 3.

Adrian Peterson ran for 160 yards in the Minnesota Vikings' 24-10 victory over the Detroit Lions. Devin Hester jump-started the Chicago Bears' special teams for the first time in three years. But close observers would agree that veteran cornerback Tim Jennings gave the Bears a huge boost in their 20-17 victory over the Green Bay Packers.

[+] EnlargeTim Jennings
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesTim Jennings' fourth-quarter fumble recovery put the Bears in position to win Monday night.
Jennings had been the Bears' fourth cornerback over the first two weeks of the season, having lost a competition for the nickel job with D.J. Moore. But after the Packers moved the ball at will in the first half in building a 10-0 lead, Bears coach Lovie Smith yanked No. 1 cornerback Zack Bowman and inserted Jennings.

The Packers managed only seven points over the final 34 minutes, 41 seconds of the game -- in part because Jennings was an aggressive and sure tackler against Green Bay's short passing game.

Jennings finished with seven tackles and, more importantly, made an athletic play to recover a James Jones fumble while keeping his body in bounds along the sideline late in the fourth quarter. When you watch the replay, you see Jennings actually hop away from the sideline to ensure he didn't touch it.

The recovery set up the Bears' winning drive. I'm not sure if the Bears know what the future holds for the position, but on Monday night at least, Jennings was an impactful and high-energy player.

NFC East High Energy Player of the Week

September, 28, 2010
9/28/10
3:01
PM ET
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 3.

Since his arrival during the '08 season, no Dallas Cowboys player has taken as much heat as wide receiver Roy Williams. And the criticism has been deserved, I might add.

[+] EnlargeRoy Williams
Kirk Sides/Icon SMIRoy Williams found the end zone twice in Sunday's win.
But on a Sunday when the Cowboys needed a win to keep their 2010 season alive, Williams turned in one of the best performances of his career. It was only his second 100-yard game with the Cowboys, and this time it led to a win. We'll never know exactly why quarterback Tony Romo and Williams have had such a difficult time finding chemistry, but they teamed to overwhelm a young Texans secondary in the Cowboys' 27-13 win.

Williams had five catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns. He caught passes in traffic and used his powerful frame to beat jams at the line of scrimmage. Williams was plagued by drops last season, but he's caught everything thrown his way this season. To his credit, he's handled all the criticism with a lot of class.

There's a decent chance Dez Bryant will overtake Williams as No. 2 receiver at some point this season, but it's not going to happen after Sunday's game. Williams' willingness to work the middle of the field and take big hits over the past couple of weeks has given this offense much-needed energy. And if a team's going to sell out to stop Miles Austin, Williams will continue to get opportunities.

We've been quick to criticize Williams for his play since the '08 season, so it's only appropriate that he receive recognition this week. He told a Houston radio station Monday that he's been inspired by Hall of Famer Michael Irvin saying the Cowboys were playing "10 vs. 11" because of Williams' presence on the field. And if that's the type of motivation he needs, I'm sure Jerry Jones will encourage Irvin to keep up the good work.
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 3.

[+] EnlargeBlair White
Justin Edmonds/Getty ImagesOne of Blair White's three receptions Sunday went for a touchdown.
When Pierre Garcon's hamstring injury meant he couldn’t make the trip to Denver, the Colts made room to promote practice squad receiver Blair White.

With Anthony Gonzalez and Garcon missing, White worked as the third wideout, with Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie ahead of him. Collie had a monster day, but White had more than a subtle impact as well.

Peyton Manning found him three times for 27 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown in the third quarter that put Indianapolis ahead by two scores, 20-10.

White knew what sort of route would work against the sort of coverage he was facing and told Manning about it. The quarterback who loves to take advantage of such insight listened. The touchdown pass was a result of that conversation.

As the Colts get healthy, White may end up back on the practice squad. But he has shown himself capable, and in a tight game where the Colts needed a play, once again they showed off their depth.
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 3.

[+] EnlargeBrett Keisel
J. Meric/Getty ImagesBrett Keisel took the first interception of his nine-year career to the house.
The play seemingly took 20 minutes. But in the end, Pittsburgh Steelers 285-pound defensive end Brett Keisel rumbled his way into the end zone for a 79-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It was a dream come true for Keisel. The 32-year-old has spent his entire career playing defensive end in Pittsburgh's 3-4 scheme. Therefore, Keisel mostly takes on blockers while stud defenders James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu get all the glory.

But when a rare big play was there to be made, Keisel knew what to do with the football. Tampa Bay receiver Sammie Stroughter dropped a pass as he was hit by Harrison, causing a deflection, and the ball bounced right into Keisel's hands.

With help from a convoy of teammates and a few nifty moves on Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, Keisel made the first interception of his career a memorable one. It was also the ninth turnover forced by the Steelers (3-0) in the past two games.

"That was great," Polamalu said of Keisel's interception. "We've been making plays like that on defense, and hopefully we continue to do that and make it easy for the offense."

AFC East High Energy Player of the Week

September, 28, 2010
9/28/10
3:00
PM ET
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 3.

The New England Patriots badly needed a backfield boost.

[+] EnlargeBenJarvus Green-Ellis
AP Photo/Stephan SavoiaBenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed 16 times for 98 yards and a touchdown against Buffalo.
Five days after they traded Laurence Maroney, trusted veteran Kevin Faulk went down with a season-finishing knee injury last week.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis stepped in and propelled the Patriots to a 38-30 victory over the Buffalo Bills in Gillette Stadium. The undrafted and seldom-used running back rushed 16 times for 98 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown that virtually ended the game.

"No matter who goes down, the train has to keep rolling," Green-Ellis said. "So everybody has to go out and do their part."

Green-Ellis went into Sunday with only 52 carries over his previous 18 games dating to November 2008.

ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss charted Green-Ellis for 23 of the Patriots' 68 offensive plays, more than any other back.

"He gets it downhill," Patriots center Dan Koppen said. "He finds what's there to get and keeps positive yards. He's a great running back to block for."

Another undrafted runner, Danny Woodhead, had a big game in his Patriots debut with three carries for 42 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown.

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